Twin Bill

In a couple of days, Tampa Bay and Oakland’s baseball teams play two games against each other in the same day. 

Two things make this doubleheader unusual. One, the games will take place back to back, with a half hour break between the games. These days, doubleheaders are usually played with a game in the early afternoon and a game at night, so that teams can charge separate admissions for each game. 

The other unusual part of this attraction Saturday is that this was a scheduled doubleheader, not something done for inclement weather. Plus, this is only the second such event at Tropicana Field, because usually domed stadiums prevent weather from interfering with the game. 

It’ll be interesting how well this regularly scheduled doubleheader draws. Tropicana usually holds 30,000 for baseball, though it can 40,000 if there is demand for it. If it draws well, maybe this becomes a yearly attraction. 

Let The Show Begin

Always good to see Dewayne and BA behind the microphone. April 2, 2017.

The older I get, the more appreciation I have for the game of baseball, and those who play it. It is the one sport that spans the ages like no other sport.

Yesterday the 2017 campaign got underway, with the Tampa Bay Rays getting the honor of playing the seasons lid lifter against the treacherous Yankees of New York. 

The Rays prevailed 7-3, with Evan Longoria claiming the first RBI, then the first home run of the season. 

Welcome back, baseball. I think I missed you a bit. 

Game 162

Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of one of the more famous games in the short history of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise.

On September 28, 2011, the Rays played the Yankees in the last game of the season, with the Yankees already having clinched the AL East division title a few days prior to the game. They (the Rays) were tied with the Boston Red Sox for the wild card spot (given to the team with the best record not winning a division, and back then only one wild card was allotted per league), meaning if the Rays and Red Sox each won or lost, there would have been a one-game playoff the following day in St. Petersburg.

The Yankees seemed the better team that night, holding a 7-0 lead going to the bottom of the 8th inning. When the Rays were seemingly doomed to hoping Boston would lose to Baltimore to force a playoff, the bats came alive for Tampa Bay in that next to last frame. They scratched for three runs in the inning before a mammoth home run by Evan Longoria cut the score to 7-6. In the 9th, Dan Johnson would homer with two outs, tying the game at 7-7 and forcing extra innings.

As the game had moved to the 12th inning, word came down that Boston had lost to Baltimore, ensuring that at the very least, the Rays and Red Sox would go to a playoff the next day should Tampa Bay lose this game. About a minute and a half later, Evan Longoria hit a line drive down the left field line, having just enough height to clear the short wall for a home run. The Rays won 8-7, and Evan Longoria joined Bobby Thompson of the 1951 New York Giants as the only two men to send their team to the playoffs on a home run.

As for me, I watched in total disbelief. I thought for sure it was the Yankees night, but when they jumped out to a 7-0 lead, it was disheartening. I remember turning the TV off and listening to the game on radio. When the Rays cut it to 7-3, I turned the game back on TV just in time to see Evan’s first homer that cut it to 7-6. People forget how important the Dan Johnson home run was, because if that were an out, the Rays would have lost. Then when the Rays won it in the 12th, I was speechless. I was happy they won, but I just couldn’t believe that they won.

It was quite a night.

Keeping Score

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On Thursday night, I was watching the Rays-Yankees game on local TV off of Fox Sports Sun. As they have done in previous years, the broadcasters used the game as a teaching tool, telling viewers how to keep score of a game. (The Rays won the game, 2-0.)

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Why should WE learn how to keep score? Don’t the people who run the game KNOW how to keep score?” Truth be told, I didn’t know how to keep score of a game, until I played the “Pursue The Pennant” board game as a high schooler.

I know, I didn’t answer my hypothetical question yet. There’s a good reason to keep score of a baseball game, or at least until the “computer age” we all live in now, there was. The advantages of keeping score is to keep an individual statistical track of the game to peruse for yourself. Sure, you can go to Retrosheet (one of my favorite sites) and look at the records of almost any game played throughout the years. But, keeping score gives you your own personal record.

Do I keep score when I go to Rays games? Nope. I like the ability to mingle and talk about the game with who I go with. But, every time I do go, someone in my area always seems to have a scoresheet, a pen or pencil, and records the accounts of the game as the outs and hits are recorded.

Next time any of you go to a baseball game, be it little league, high school, minors, or a major league game, give it a try.

 

Operation Toothpick

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After a disastrous day last week (losing 30 out of 30 baseball picks on Thursday), I’ve started a new project of starting with $1, and seeing how far up I can go over time. Out of disaster comes a higher sense of focus, and I thought this would be a good project to share with all of you.

The self-imposed rules are that I can only spend 25% or a maximum of $1 with any day’s picks, whichever is the greatest amount. Also, I can only pick one sport to play per day. I also have a 25 cent ticket, which I will use at some point if my bankroll swells to $5 or more.

If my bankroll rises to $100 or more at any point, I will bank all but $1 of my total, and start again.

My first endeavor was making picks for the Olympic golf tournament in Rio, placing all of my lowly $1 in a 50/50 game. I had the red-hot Henrik Stenson in my six picks from the field, who finish second in the tournament. He lost a Gold medal to the UK’s Justin Rose by just one stroke, and I also had Thomas Pieters who finished just out of the medals in fourth. Overall, I got 12th in a 57 player pool where a finish of 25th or higher would have won.

Last night, with a $2 balance, I played in a $1 MLB 50/50. Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals and Drew Smyly of the Tampa Bay Rays were my two pitchers, and 40% of the $50,000 salary cap I had. I was a little concerned that Scherzer was pitching in Denver tonight against the Colorado Rockies, a big park, but with Denver’s altitude, a park that usually favors good hitting. On the plus side, Max has 218 K’s in around 163 innings pitched going into tonight, so he should rack up points with his strikeouts. Smyly was pitching at home against a San Diego squad that’s 19th in team OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), plus he seems to do well at home at Tropicana Field.

With only nine MLB games on the slate, that’s a good thing, as it should keep variance down a bit. Unfortunately for me, Scherzer DID have the bad night I thought he might have, giving up 4 runs in as many innings. The hitters I chose also under performed, so my pick was a solid loser. I have to learn to trust my instincts a bit more.

This project might end before it really gets a chance to begin.

Rays Slide Story

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It’s gotten so bad with the Rays, I can barely stomach to watch their games anymore. Only Minnesota, Atlanta, and Cincinnati have fewer wins at the All-Star break, with the Rays going 3-22 in their last 25 leading up to it.

My gut says a shakeup will be coming, but I don’t know if that will lead to changing managers or players, with “trade season” in full swing with the deadline coming at the end of the month. I guess it could even be both.

If manager Kevin Cash is fired, is he deserving of it? Consider that financially the team hasn’t been doing well lately, and with a lack of profit, you get a lack of quality players.

A shame you can’t fire an owner, isn’t it?

Pride Taking Many Forms

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It was a great night to be a Rays fan Friday night, even if it didn’t show on the scoreboard with a 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants in an interleague game.

It was supposed to have been Pride Night, a chance for the LGBT community to show their spirit and go see some baseball. But, in light of the tragic shooting last week in Orlando, the event was turned into a makeshift benefit for the victims. Beginning the previous Tuesday (June 14th), tickets that were still available went on sale for as low as just $5. Not only did the game sell out to its regular capacity of just above 31,500, the Rays decided to remove the usually tarped over seats in the upper deck 300 level.

In all, 40,136 tickets were sold for a Friday night game, the biggest crowd the Rays have had for a regular season game in over ten years. Watching the game, it didn’t appear to me that the seats were completely filled, looking like a crowd of just under 30,000. But it didn’t matter. The tickets were bought, and the Rays ball club was able to raise over $300,000 for those lives tragically cut short.

It just goes to show you that there is a market for Major League Baseball in the Tampa Bay area. It’s just a matter of find the pricing and location that taps into that market to make the enterprise profitable and enjoyable at all.